The 2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties at Walt Disney World will occur September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30 and October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, and 31. This post covers our tips and tricks for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, based on our experiences attending the party numerous times in past years.
Tickets are now on sale for the party, and can be purchased via Walt Disney World’s event page. Prices for the 2016 parties having increased by $4 to $18 per adult, with adult ticket prices now starting at $72 for the early September parties and going up from there (the October 31, 2016 party is over $100!). This is the most dramatic price increase in memory, and we’ll cover whether we think the Halloween Party is still worth it later in the post.
Prices aren’t the only record the party is setting for 2016. There are also more Halloween Party nights than ever before. This is a bummer for guests who aren’t attending the party, because it means the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 p.m. several nights per week to guests who haven’t not purchased tickets for the Halloween Party.
So you can prepare for the Halloween Party now, here is our analysis based upon the last several years (we go to it yearly) to help you determine whether this expensive hard ticket event is worth it to you, and if so, what your “Plan of Attack” should be to efficiently conquer the various offerings. Between this party and Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, plus improving weather, the fall months at Walt Disney World are one of our favorite times of year to visit!
Note that this guide covers Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, not Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. For info about the latter, read our comprehensive Guide to Halloween Time at Disneyland!
Should You Attend?
So at over $70 a pop for tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you might be trying to determine, “is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party worth it?” Our opinion, as Disney-biased tourists, is that it is worth the price at least once if you can afford the splurge (and, ideally, if you can go to one of the cheaper September nights). We do not recommend the $100+ Halloween night party. It’s simply too much money and more crowded–you’re better off attending a less expensive party earlier in the week and doing (free) trick or treating at a resort hotel on Halloween night.
Once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one time event, it’s worth it if your budget allows. In our updated Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 Tips post, we do not make the same claim about the Christmas Party, which is more expensive for most dates.
Aside from the higher price, the biggest difference between the two parties is that the Halloween Party offers more special entertainment and character meet & greets. Personally, I enjoy the Christmas Party more, but I think it’s undeniable that there’s more to do at the Halloween Party. There’s a lot of special entertainment including one of Disney’s best parades and a great fireworks show, a great ambiance to the party including special decorations and lighting, lots of unique character meet & greets, and even seeing other guests in Halloween costumes makes for a fun experience.
If you do decide to do the Halloween Party, make sure to buy your tickets in advance, and use any available discounts (Disney Vacation Club member, Annual Passholder, etc.). Tickets are more expensive on the day of the party, and several nights each year sell out completely. While we do not expect early sell outs for 2016 given the significant price increase (aside from Halloween night, which will likely sell out in advance no matter what they charge for it), it’s still wise to purchase early if you know you’re going. It would stink to wait until the last minute and have your dates sell out.
If you’re still not convinced one way or the other as to whether it’s “worth it” for you, read our review at the end of the post…
If you’re a potentially returning guest to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, what’s been announced for this year is exactly the same is last year. Returning is the HalloWishes dessert party that’s comparable to the regular Wishes dessert party, except with Halloween-decorated desserts, and a reserved viewing area for the Boo to You Parade from Town Square. It cost $69 per adult ($39 for kids ages 3-11) on top of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket. So, if you’ve been thinking that the Halloween party is just too darn cheap, this option is for you!
It was too expensive for us, so we didn’t do it. Plus, the reserved viewing area is not a good spot for viewing the fireworks (for the best spots, check out our Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations Guide), and there are just too many other great things to do at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (it’s unlikely you can do all of the regular entertainment in a single night) to justify attending a dessert party. It’s just not worth taking the time from the regular awesome entertainment of the Halloween party to do this. Plus, the idea of another upcharge event within an upcharge event just makes us cringe.
Fortunately, the other “significant” new thing last year was the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show, and it was absolutely awesome. It’s also returning for 2016. It’s nice to see some new entertainment, as the Villains Mix & Mingle had been around for a while. We gushed about this in our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Recap, which detailed our experience at the party last year. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some other minor “new” thing announced for 2016, but largely, it’ll be the same event as last year.
As for what you should do during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, here’s our guide to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!
The first important tip is to pick the best day on your trip for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Some nights are busier than others, and that post covers our tips for choosing the least-crowded dates. Disney prices these parties based on historical demand, so going on the cheapest party night you can is generally the best idea from both the perspective of saving money and avoiding crowds. Win-win!
The second most important tip is to arrive early to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The Party officially starts at 7 p.m., which is when all of the entertainment actually begins, but guests can enter with their Halloween Party tickets as early as 4 p.m. This is not something Walt Disney World advertises, but it absolutely is true, and you will see plenty of other guests arriving at 4 p.m., and Cast Members in their Halloween outfits at the turnstiles.
This earlier entry offers you potential savings to offset the cost of your tickets. Before we were Annual Passholders, we’d plan on doing Downtown Disney or a water park the morning we went to the Halloween Party, which allowed us to purchase 1-day less on our park tickets. We highly recommend that you do the same! In other words, if you normally would buy a 5-day ticket for your trip, buy a 4-day ticket and do something besides one of the 4 theme parks before 4 p.m.
The additional day you’re not purchasing would have only added on $10-30 in cost to your total package, so we’re not talking a substantial amount here, but it makes the Halloween Party more economical. To save even more money on multi-day Walt Disney World tickets, we recommend buying from an authorized ticket broker selling cheaper tickets than you can buy directly from Disney. Read our Tips for Buying Discount Walt Disney World Tickets Guide for more information about saving money on park tickets. You can’t buy Halloween Party tickets from these authorized ticket sellers, but the amount you save on your regular park tickets plus the savings on that extra day you’re not purchasing will help offset the added cost of the party tickets.
The next biggest tip is to wear a costume! Well…hopefully. Thankfully, costumes will be allowed for all guests despite Disney’s latest security policy update. Here’s Disney’s official word on costumes for 2016: “while costumed attire may be worn, guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body as they may be subject to additional security screening. Additionally, costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.” Phew!
At least half of the Guests who attend the party wear costumes, and it’s a lot more fun if you do. You’re spending a fair chunk of change to attend one of these parties, make sure you get as much value for your money as possible by wearing a costume. You don’t need to buy some expensive costume from the store–make one at home from items you buy at a thrift shop. Sarah and I attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party as the following: astronauts; an elf and princess; and “Cute Minnie” and a Toy Story Alien, among other things. Most of the time, our costumes are pretty lame as compared to other guests, but we still have a lot of fun!
For costumes, go inexpensive, simple, and most importantly…LIGHTWEIGHT. We have a Guide to Halloween Costumes for the Disney Parks that covers the nuts and bolts. Suffice to say, we have worn heavier costumes, and let me tell you what a mistake that was. It may be cooler at nighttime in the fall, but it’s still Florida, and it’s still humid and hot.
While you will see a lot of guests in complex and really creative costumes, unless you have a specific costume in mind that you really want to make, simpler and lighter is better as far as costumes go.
If at all possible, find a way to avoid trick or treating or save it until the end of the night. It is a major time drain, and you could buy a bag of candy yourself for like $3. It may be difficult to convince kids not to trick or treat, but if you can, find a way. There is so much entertainment during the Halloween Party that you won’t get everything done even if you don’t trick or treat and don’t do any attractions.
Arrive at 4 p.m., eat and do an attraction or two before 6:00 pm. Once 6 pm hits, it’s time to get ready to party, and time to initiate your Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party attack-plan to do and see as much as you can.
Let’s start out by taking a quick look at the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Map, which gives you an idea of special foods available, as well as show times for the major entertainment (click to view full size):
Read it, study it, learn it. Knowing these times before you go is, in itself, a nice advantage. From there, we will start with our plan of attack to efficiently accomplish as much as possible during MNSSHP.
Halloween Party Plan of Attack
We have refined this strategy guide based on our experiences of attending the party every year before for the past several years, and has been updated following our experience at the 2015 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The tips here are pretty consistent from year to year and we’ve honed our strategy over several years, so don’t expect many changes. This is nothing scientific, just some “real world” tips from frequent visitors to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Also, this guide does not include every character at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. You’re going to have to make some “difficult” decisions when it comes meet & greets, because you can’t do them all. As such, we skip anyone who can be met during a normal day in Magic Kingdom…
Line Up For First Characters No Later Than 6:30 pm – The party officially starts at 7 pm, and invariably, lines start forming before the party starts. The Seven Dwarfs meet near the New Fantasyland entrance, just outside the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (which opened last year) in New Fantasyland during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Their line is going to be long for the entire party.
Jack Skellington and Sally also meet in Storybook Circus. These characters are the second most popular of the party, after the Seven Dwarfs. Unless you want to burn hours of the party, you probably are going to have to choose between Nightmare Before Christmas Characters or the Seven Dwarfs. (We always choose the Seven Dwarfs, mostly because it’s easy to meet Jack & Sally at Disneyland.) Get in line for one of these meet & greets no later than 6:30 pm (maybe even as early as 6 pm!) so that you use as little actual party time as possible on the most popular meet & greets of the night. That is, unless the prospect of waiting in an hour plus long line during the height of the party doesn’t scared you.
If you can’t decide between these choices, we’d recommend the Dwarfs. Not only are they a ‘bigger’ meet & greet, but their location also makes it easy to jump to other popular/semi-popular meet & greets afterward. Plus, while in line for the Seven Dwarfs, you may see other characters roaming the area. We have been able to meet Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum while waiting in line for the Dwarfs.
The Witch – Villains are en vogue right now, and Disney has responded by expanding the dedicated villains meet & greets at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The only one we recommend focusing on is The Witch, as the rest (Gaston, Jafar, Tremaines, etc.) can all be found during daytime hours. The big problem is that The Witch may already have a prohibitively long line by this point, in which case you should wait until after 11 pm to meet here. She will be back in New Fantasyland, making it easy to check her line after meeting the Dwarfs.
Pooh Characters – If you start with the Dwarfs and skip The Witch, it’s easy to then bounce over to the Pooh line by the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in Fantasyland. This is one of the most popular meet & greets at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Last year, all four met together, and they only took one photo per guest. It felt less like a meet & greet and more like a “photo assembly line.” On the plus side, the wait wasn’t nearly as long as it has been in the past.
Alice in Wonderland Characters – This meet & greet is nearby (at the Mad Tea Party), making it a quick one to knock out. Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, and Queen of Hearts are all in this spot, possibly on a rotation.
Boo To You Parade – By now, it’s probably about time for getting a Boo To You Parade spot. There are two showings of this parade, and the second is always far less crowded. Get spots at least 30 minutes early for the first parade (much earlier if it’s a busy night). If you do elect to just go with the second parade, you may end up kicking yourself, because this is one of the best parades Disney does. We always watch the early parade AND the late parade.
You obviously can’t do this if you skip the early parade, so plan wisely. If you’re really into meeting characters, it’s difficult to meet all of the characters, watch the fireworks, do Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, AND watch both parades. If character meet and greets aren’t that important to you, we recommend watching the early parade so you at least have the ability to watch it again if you really enjoy it.
Given the excellent lighting and ambiance on Main Street, we consider this the best place to view the parade (which steps off in Frontierland). It’s also the most crowded spot. The Headless Horseman comes first, followed by the rest of the Parade much later (especially to Main Street).
Following the horse, the parade takes a long time to come–almost twenty minutes later. The Boo To You Parade is awesome. The performers in this parade are amazing: the caretaker “shovel band,” the Haunted Mansion dancers, the Headless Horseman, the Haunted Mansion caretaker—I’m probably forgetting someone—all were excellent. They absolutely made the parade.
I now think the key to any successful parade is: headless people, scrapping shovels on the ground, proclamations of it being “good to be bad,” chickens ‘bawking’ to the beat, and the Country Bears rocking out. Any parade organizers out there reading this, you can thank me later for my solid advice.
HalloWishes – HalloWishes is the fireworks spectacular shown only during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties (click here for photos of the fireworks). It runs only once per night, and is not to be missed. If you view the first Boo to You parade from Main Street, about the time it’s over you can go watch the Hocus Pocus Villains Spelltacular and then, it would be a good time for you to pick a viewing location for HalloWishes.
This show does have perimeter bursts, and Castle projections, so a location on Main Street USA or near Casey’s and the Ice Cream parlor are good options. Don’t get too close to the Castle, or you won’t be able to see all of the bursts!
While the Boo to You parade exceeds the Christmas parade, HalloWishes does not trump Holiday Wishes! Not even close. Maybe from a pure pyrotechnics perspective, but the show elements of Holiday Wishes are far superior. Can’t beat that “Oh Christmas Tree” portion, the wonderful score in general, and the neat juxtaposition of the bursts with various dialogue, sound effects, and the score.
Catch Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular After HalloWishes – Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is absolutely not to be missed. The third showing of Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular is shortly after HalloWishes on the Castle forecourt stage, which is just before the second Boo to You Parade. By hitting HalloWishes-Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular-Boo to You like this, you don’t run all over the park wasting time.
It will show hosted by the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” who return to the mortal world for one night during the Halloween season. The three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best, evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard, featuring Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other Disney villains, plus dancers, projections, and special effects. Unfortunately, the villains will not do meet & greets after the show (which is fine by us since this was so chaotic), so you’ll want to find them throughout the park instead.
Our strategy for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is going to be devoting the middle chunk to entertainment in the following manner:
- Boo to You Parade (8:35 pm)
- Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular (9:20 pm)
- HalloWishes (10 pm)
- Hocus Pocus Villains Spectacular (10:40 pm)
- Boo to You Parade (11:15 pm)
This means doubling up on both the parade and the stage show, but I know the parade is awesome and I always see it twice. As for Hocus Pocus, you’ll have a pretty poor view of the first show (since you’ll be arriving late with this plan), so you might just want to stick to the later showing. This basically leaves time for character meet & greets at the beginning and end of the party. I don’t recommend this strategy for everyone, but as we have already met most characters, it will work well for us. With that said, this should demonstrate why we don’t recommend doing regular attractions during the Halloween Party. You won’t have the time to do it all!
The following advice is going to assume that you Boo to You (1st), then the 9:20 Hocus Pocus show, and then watch HalloWishes…
Donald & Daisy and Minnie – Meeting back by New Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus, Donald & Daisy, and Minnie Mouse wear special Halloween costumes for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. That, plus their relatively short waits later in the evening make them an absolute must-do.
Characters at Dance Parties – This tip used to include free-roaming characters (such as the Country Bears), but we didn’t see them last year, and we haven’t heard of them being out this year. If you do see free-roaming characters, go interact with them! They typically don’t get very long waits no matter when you go and they are, and can be tons of fun. As for dance parties, there’s the Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball dance party on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland; expect to be able to dance (and scream) with Monsters, Inc. characters there. In Frontierland, the Club Villains will be a good location to see the ever-popular villains.
Now is also a good time for the characters over in Adventureland. You should have plenty of time to play around with King Louie and Tarzan over here, as there shouldn’t be any lines–this makes for great interactions.
On our recent visit, whomever was friends with King Louie that evening had some rhythm. I’ve never seen a primate moonwalk quite like that. I guess those big ape-feet are good for something! Tarzan and Terk are just as much fun and should have just as short of a wait. In our experiences, Tarzan is “unintentionally” hilarious. He’s a lot of fun, so definitely take the time to interact with him, and not just pose with him for photos. If you need ideas for interacting, read our Disney Character Meet & Greet Tips.
If meeting with characters and having some fun are more important than just getting cool pictures of them, then these locations in Adventureland and Frontierland are the hidden gems of the parties. At both Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we’ve had a blast having extended interactions with the characters. This is the case because later in the evening, these characters typically have shorter lines. You won’t get that kind of interaction from the “big” characters who have huge lines!
Jack Sparrow – Captain Jack Sparrow isn’t lumped in with the above because he’s not “less popular.” He usually meets outside Pirates of the Caribbean, and his waits can be fairly long. At this point in the night, they shouldn’t be too bad, though. Since you’re in the area, check his line. If the wait is long, check back after the second Boo To You Parade.
Second Boo To You Parade – If you’ve already seen the first parade from Main Street, watch the second parade from wherever, if you watch it at all. If you find yourself with free time 15 minutes before the parade steps off, head to Frontierland. Main Street is our favorite place for viewing the parade, but unless you didn’t get all of the photos you wanted during the first parade, you definitely don’t want to head to Main Street and wait for it to come all the way to you again.
Main Street Theater Mickey Mouse Meet & Greet – After 11 pm is the best time to visit Mickey Mouse. I’m not sure when his line gets cut, but it’s not early. If you can’t do this at the very end of the party, do it as early or as late as possible, but not immediately after a parade. Your mileage may vary on this one, but we still recommend going towards the end of the Halloween Party.
Princess Fairytale Hall – Depending upon how busy the party is, you might not have time for this. We’re not sure when this line will be cut, but we expect it to see long lines throughout the party, especially as 75% of children go to the party dressed as Frozen characters and want photos with the characters in-costume. Our tip: to avoid this problem, dress your kids in Frozen costumes on a normal day visit to the Magic Kingdom and meet Anna and Elsa then, and do different costumes during the Halloween party. You really can’t go wrong with a Big Bad Wolf costume! 😉
Miscellaneous Halloween Party ‘Things’
In addition to things that we think are best accomplished on a set schedule, there are other offerings during the Halloween Party of which you might want to take advantage…
Haunted Mansion – This is the only attraction we recommend doing during the Halloween Party, and the big reason is Madame Carlotta and Madame Rinata who sit on the lawn of the Haunted Mansion entertaining guests in line. Also, there is a special PhotoPass opportunity here with the Hitchhiking Ghosts. (Pro tip: go through the exit and watch the performers for a bit and skip the ride.)
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Card – This is not something about which we care, but if you want the exclusive Halloween Party Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card, go as late as possible to the Fire Station. The line was pretty long for this throughout the entire night, but seemed to die down as the evening wore on. Another alternative would be to go while one person holds spots for the parade if you view it from Main Street.
Mayhem at the Mansion – This is an augmented reality game that guests will be (or was going to be?) able to play during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. It has yet to launch, and the app needed to play the game is no longer available from the App Stores. Guests will use the app to take photos of themselves and ghosts throughout the Magic Kingdom that they find via a map. Perhaps this will launch for the second party?
Merchandise – In addition to the normal Halloween merchandise available, there is special Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party merchandise that can only be purchased during the party. This year, that includes LE pins, LE MagicBands, shirts, and more.
Food – We advised eating before, not during, the party, but that applies to full meals. The only thing you might want to eat again once the party starts is some of the special Halloween snacks exclusive to the party. We were a bit let down by the Spiced Pumpkin Waffle Sundae last year, but this year’s Candy Corn Ice Cream looks promising.
While we also manage to spot an above-average number of “free roaming” characters during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, that number seems to be decreasing with each year.
My biggest complaint, and this is entirely personal to me, is that the Country Bears are not out like they are for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Then again, I think the Country Bears should always be out. Those bears rock. I think they should actually make of subset of Frontierland and coin it “Bearland.”
Review & Conclusion
Overall, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a great event that every guest should experience at least once if money allows. It’s especially great for character meetings, the Boo To You Parade, and the HalloWishes Fireworks.
There is enough on the schedule that you need to have a good strategy to accomplish everything, and there is plenty to do during the Halloween Party to keep you entertained–enough that you might want to forgo doing any attractions and finding another day in the Magic Kingdom for those. Realistically, the above plan is a little overly-ambitious unless you race from character to character.
We have not met The Witch, but if the lines I saw for her at Villains Unleashed are any indication, trying to meet the Dwarfs and her is going to be a real challenge unless you’re willing to spend a lot of time in line. Same goes for some other characters mentioned, like Jack Sparrow. Just remember to use this as a rough guide, and if you encounter a line that is super long, go against our advice. Improvise on the fly! You wouldn’t drive your car into a lake at your GPS’s insistence, would you?!
When we do Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we always leave plenty of things undone. You simply cannot do it all. This is especially true if you have youngsters who may want to trick or treat, which does take some time.
We skip trick or treating entirely–if we liked candy, we could buy it at home far cheaper than the $70+ our tickets cost. It’s not just the unique parade, fireworks, and rare character meet and greets that make this party special. There is an excitement in the air (maybe it’s all that sugar) and the guest costumes really liven things up.
On top of that, the Magic Kingdom gets decked out for the party, with cool decorations, an excellent lighting package, and even different background music. It’s these little details that make the party worth the money for us.
If these photos have whetted your appetite, visit our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Photo Page!
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Have you attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Do you think it’s worth the money? What’s your own “can’t miss” thing to do during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party? Share your thoughts on these questions, or anything else, in the comments!